REUTERS ENGLISH NEWS SERVICE
Protesters Should Not Stop
Vieques Vote - Clinton
February 16, 2000
Copyright © 2000 REUTERS LTD. All Rights Reserved.
WASHINGTON, Feb 16 (Reuters) - President
Bill Clinton said on Wednesday protesters at a U.S. Navy bombing
range on the island of Vieques off Puerto Rico should not be
allowed to prevent the island's residents from deciding the future
of the range.
"The people of Vieques should decide
this," Clinton said in response to questions at a White
House news conference.
"And, just as I don't think the
Pentagon should impose it on them, I don't think the demonstrators
should stop them from having a vote either. I think they ought
to be able to make a judgment."
Clinton stopped short of saying if he
would support any move by federal authorities to oust squatters
from the controversial range but voiced support for last month's
agreement between U.S. and Puerto Rican officials.
THE VIRGINIA-PILOT AND THE
LEDGER-STAR, NORFOLK, VA
Navy To Send Officer To Lobby
by Dale Eisman
February 11, 2000
Copyright © 2000 THE VIRGINIA-PILOT AND THE LEDGER-STAR.
All Rights Reserved.
The Navy's top admiral told Congress
on Thursday that he'll dispatch a flag officer to Puerto Rico
within the next few days to begin efforts "to win the hearts
and minds" of voters on Vieques Island, home of a besieged
and - according to the Navy - critically needed bombing range.
Adm. Jay L. Johnson, the chief of naval
operations, also promised the House Armed Services Committee
that the Navy is determined to be a better neighbor to Vieques'
9,300 residents. He acknowledged that the service has moved too
slowly to repair damage from what many Viequens see as years
of indifference to the range's impact on their island.
"You need to start today, admiral,
if you want to keep that range," Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss.,
lectured Johnson. "And you've gotta keep that range."
The service hopes to win the right to
again use live ammunition on the range but must persuade Vieques
voters to approve that move in a referendum.
Despite Johnson's promise Thursday of
quick action to improve relations, other Navy officials said
later that no decision has been made about who will take the
Vieques assignment and when that officer will report.
Vieques Puerto Ricans To Vote Down
US Navy Training - Poll
February 10, 2000
DOW JONES INTERNATIONAL NEWS Copyright © 2000 DOW JONES
& CO., INC.
All Rights Reserved.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP)--Residents
on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques will vote overwhelmingly
to expel the U.S. Navy from a controversial bombing range in
an upcoming referendum, said a poll published Thursday.
About 84% of those polled said they
would choose to evict the military.
Only 4% wanted the Navy to continue
exercises in exchange for $50 million in aid, under a deal made
by President Bill Clinton. The rest said they wouldn't vote or
would choose "none of the above."
The house-to-house survey of 300 of
the island's 9,400 residents was carried out Feb. 3-5 and commissioned
by El Nuevo Dia newspaper. It has a 4% margin of error.
Clinton said he would order the Navy
to leave by May 1, 2003, if Vieques residents want that. Meanwhile,
training will continue with dummy bombs.
About 55% of those polled said they
would be satisfied to see the Navy leave in three years. Twenty-nine
percent wanted the military to leave immediately.
The poll showed 77% of residents were
unsatisfied with Gov. Pedro Rossello's negotiations with the
White House. About 95% said they should have been consulted and
89% said Rossello backed down from his pledge to allow "not
one more bullet" in Vieques .
About 79% said they wanted the referendum
held before exercises resume as expected in March with the arrival
of the USS George Washington aircraft carrier and its battle
group of ships and submarines.
The poll showed widespread approval
for Independence Party leader Ruben Berrios, who has camped out
on the bombing range since May. About 25% of those polled said
they would vote for Berrios for governor in November elections,
the highest percentage ever for an Independence Party candidate.